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Justice system marches on in Texas during COVID-19

Oped by Commissioner Cook published in the National Association of Counties Organization's County News

  • 11 June 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 420
  • 0 Comments

By Terry Cook   Jun. 9, 2020

NACo County News

The public health emergency caused by COVID-19 has impacted daily life across the country and around the world. In Williamson County, Texas, our justice system responded to the coronavirus through innovation, ingenuity and a commitment to service.

Our courts in Williamson County have long embraced technology, but the disaster declaration accelerated the pace of innovation.  On March 13, the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals ordered all hearings be held remotely. 

Under the leadership of local Administrative Judges Betsy Lambeth of the 425th District Court and John McMaster, County Court-at-Law Four, emergency plans ensuring that the justice system continued to function during the pandemic were activated.

The first step was to identify critical functions, including child protection hearings, temporary restraining orders and protective orders. Probable cause hearings (magistration) that must occur within 24-48 hours from the time of arrest were also identified as critical.

If a probable cause is found, the magistrate determines whether to set a personal bond and orders bond conditions and other statutory conditions. The magistrate also determines if there are any mental health issues and orders an evaluation if necessary, which is conducted by our local mental health authority through telemedicine.

Next, the judges assembled a team to determine how operations could be modified to achieve their goal. Our judges, clerks, court staff, IT personnel, sheriff and juvenile services together adjusted operational plans and assessed technological options to ensure essential functions continued, and the public had access to justice. 

Our IT Department provided judges with Microsoft Teams, the very popular Zoom, WebEx and CourtCall as options to hold court proceedings. 

Court staff created detailed written procedures for hearing participants. Judges and attorneys provided feedback as this process unfolded.

UPDATED May 27 See Interactive Self-Response Rates by State (Link Below) - CENSUS 2020 - Raise Your Hand Texas

Please fill out your Census questionnaire and remind your loved ones and friends to do so.

  • 22 May 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 480
  • 0 Comments

Log onto https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html for the 2020 Census Self-Response Rate by State Interactive Web Site!!!

The 2020 Census will shape funding for many critical education programs in Texas. An accurate count will help Texas provide quality early childhood education, feed our low-income students, and better serve our special education population.

Stand up for Texas students. Respond to the 2020 Census and share resources to encourage others to do the same.

For more information on the Census 2020, please visit https://www.raiseyourhandtexas.org/advocacy/census/

Commissioner Cook Offers Remarks and Poem at Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Central Texas Iftar Marking Start of Holy Lunar Month of Ramadan

The virtual event was held Saturday, May 9, to also commemorate 100 years since the establishment of this oldest Muslim organization in the United States.

  • 11 May 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 679
  • 0 Comments

Isolation

by Terry Cook

One day rolls into the next

No jolt, no transition, it just does.

Left alone am I.

In silence I sit, read, sigh.

I miss my family.

I miss the touch of a friend.

The warm hug that told me ‘we are well’.

The kiss on the cheek,

The humorous glint in their eye, now too distanced to see.

The jokes we told now muffled behind the mask.

Laughter, ahh, laughter that warmed the soul.

Hands clasped, we strolled together each day, now too distanced to be.

That which has happened, not our doing.

But it neither our undoing.

Does God wish us to be malcontents or filled with love?

Do we long for the past or relish the known and unknown of the future?

We still have each other; friendship does not whither under the winds of isolation.

But is patient, full of anticipation of its coming resumption.

Commissioner Cook's Air Quality Awareness Week Proclamation Approved in Commissioners Court

Commissioners Court was held Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  • 6 May 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 538
  • 0 Comments

PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS,  air quality can threaten our environment, economy, and the health of the residents of Williamson County; and

WHEREAS,  the 2019 ozone design value in the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown MSA is 68 parts per billion (ppb), which is just 2 ppb below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground level ozone of 70 ppb; and

WHERAS,  while air quality is improving in Central Texas, regional air pollution levels were considered “moderate” or worse on twenty-seven percent of days in 2019, according to the National Air Quality Index; and

WHEREAS,  children, older adults, people with lung disease, and people with heart disease make up about two out of every five residents of Central Texas, and are particularly affected by poor air quality; and 

WHEREAS,   Williamson County supports public awareness about the quality of local and regional air quality and steps that members of our community can take to reduce their exposure to air pollution and to reduce the emissions that contribute to poor air quality in the region; and,

WHEREAS,  Williamson County is a member of the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition of the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) and supports the Coalition’s effort to promote regional air quality.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Williamson County Commissioners Court proclaims May 4 – 8, 2020 as

Air Quality Awareness Week 

Click on READ MORE to continue

Commissioners Court Discusses Filming for LivePD in Williamson County

Discussions held Tuesday, April 28, 2020

  • 1 May 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 530
  • 0 Comments

To watch the Commissioners Court proceedings on this matter, please go to https://williamsoncountytx.swagit.com/play/04282020-1746

Click on Agenda Item 12 on the screen, and it will take you to that part of the meeting. 

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